Thursday, December 02, 2021

Road project may now proceed

THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 can now proceed with its road works on Sergio Osmeña St.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 lifted the cease-and-desist order it issued against DPWH for the removal of 79 trees from the street last year.

In an order issued last Monday, acting Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) chief Raul Pasoc ordered the lifting of the CDO after the DPWH was able to provide 7,900 seedlings of assorted tree species to their office.

The coffee, narra, cacao and mango seedlings are stored at Camp Marina in Barangay Capitol Site.

Dr. Eddie Llamedo, DENR 7 spokesperson, said that while the DPWH provided the seedlings, they will not start planting until El Niño is over.

The seedlings will be planted within 15.8 hectares of forestland in the barangays in Cebu City belonging to the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL).

But even with the lifting of the CDO, Llamedo said DPWH must still comply with certain conditions, which includes ensuring that 85 percent of the seedlings they planted will survive.

He said a multi-partite monitoring team must be formed to check on the trees’s growth and survival.

Llamedo said that with the lifting of the CDO, the DPWH can now resume earth-balling the remaining 66 trees from S. Osmeña St. But the earth-balling operations can only resume if the DPWH secures a new permit from CENRO, he said.

Llamedo said the lifting of the order cannot affect their case against the agency and its official subcontractor, WT Construction.

On appeal

The case is on appeal after the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office denied the case against WT Construction.

The DPWH Cebu City District Engineering Office has yet to receive a Department Order (DO) related to cutting of trees in its road widening projects.

District Engr. Nicomedes Leonor reacted to the statement of DENR 7 Director Isabelo Montejo that permit to cut trees can only be issued if the applications by DPWH offices in Cebu have been vetted or evaluated by DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson.

Speaking during the Kapihan sa PIA (Philippine Information Agency), Montejo said the policy before is that the DENR will require DPWH to plant trees before the DENR will issue permit to cut trees immediately upon submission of application.

However, Montejo said that under a new policy based on the department order issued by Singson, no permit shall be issued unless he has evaluated the application.

Leonor said that among the trees recommended for cutting are located in the middle of Don Gil Garcia St., Cebu City besides Cebu Provincial Capitol and on S. Osmeña St.

Legal basis

Leonor said DPWH has to cut the trees to widen the roads. However, he said they have no legal basis to do it now because they lack the permit from DENR.

Dr. Eddie Llamedo, DENR 7 public information officer, said the DENR issues special tree cutting permit on trees affected by a road widening project by DPWH or Local government Units (LGUs), including trees in public places like schools, town halls or government institutions.

However, Llamedo said the DENR cannot issue the permit unless clearances shall have been taken by DPWH from barangay LGU, mayor’s permit and proof of public consultation.

The trees should be inventoried by the concerned Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer.

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